Once upon a time, the notion of SUV drag racing was pretty silly. This was back when every sport utility vehicle on the market offered all sorts of utility with just a tiny a bit of sport. Times have obviously changed, as the two movers featured here make around 1,200 horsepower combined.
In the left corner there is the BMW X5 M Competition. In the world of luxury SUVs, it has few performance rivals thanks to a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 engine developing 617 horsepower (460 kilowatts). One of those rivals is on course for this showdown, however, and there’s no doubting the big body of the Mercedes-AMG G63. Upright and proud, it also wields a twin-turbo V8, although slightly smaller at 4.0 litres. It’s also a little less powerful at 577 hp (430 kW), and the mighty Merc weighs several hundred pounds more as well. On paper, things don’t look good for AMG.
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But as we all know, the numbers don’t always translate to real-world conditions. This YouTube video of Archie Hamilton Racing brings this point to bear, as the showdown conditions are described as cold, wet, and even a bit icy. Internal combustion engines love fresh air, but tires hate cold surfaces and this competition takes place on an unprepared track. That could negate the BMW’s power-to-weight advantage.
In fact, that appears to be the case in the first of three rounds. The heavier AMG jumps completely in front of the Bimmer out of line and stays there…for a while anyway. Once up to date, the X5 M flies past to claim a win, but it’s certainly not a massacre. Run two is almost the same, although the X5 handles better launch and isn’t as far behind at the start. As speed increases, so does the big G’s resistance to air, and subsequently, the distance it drags the BMW to the finish line.
The final battle ditches the standing start for a roll race, and one would think the X5 would simply assassinate the Merc based on previous results. From a 30 mph roll, however, things are side by side. That is, until physics reminds the G63 pilot that yes, aerodynamics matter.